Saturday, August 7, 2010

Perspectives On Wealth Distribution, Including Takes By Green-Rainbow, Libertarian, And Socialist Organizers.

Last Thursday, I published a post that dealt with wealth distribution. In it, I referenced an op-ed by Senator Bernie Sanders. His piece was published over at Politico, and included this stunning revelation:

"Today, the top 1 percent of wage earners earn more income than the bottom 50 percent; and the top 1 percent has more wealth than the bottom 90 percent. "

Those figures disturbed me. I didn't know quite what to make of them, so I decided to solicit responses from a collection of political activists. Of the 8 organizations I approached for perspectives, 3 of them graciously took the time to respond. A big thank you to all of them. I've posted them in the order they were received.

Patrick Burke is The Membership Director of the Green-Rainbow Party.

The Snare General:
"Does the Green-Rainbow Party have an official position on wealth distribution (or the income gap)?"

Patrick Burke: "We do not have an official position on wealth distribution specifically. However, a quick look at the 10 Key Values ( ) and some of our recent public issue statements makes clear that our party sees economic inequality as a major problem in our society unlike the Democratic and Republican parties.

Take our position on taxes: The regressive nature of the tax system in Massachusetts causes the lower income people to carry a greater burden than higher income people. It's a matter of fairness that during this time of economic hardship that those with those better able to bear it contribute at least an equal proportion of their income in taxes as those with lower incomes. Our candidate for governor Jill Stein lays out this case nicely on her website:

A good place to get information on this subject for Massachusetts specifically is the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center. And this study specifically shows how income inequality has increased in Massachusetts over the past 30 years: ."

George Phillies responds for the The Massachusetts Libertarian Party.

The Snare General: "Does the Libertarian Party of Massachusetts have an official position on wealth distribution (or the income gap)?"

George Phillies: "We support people being able to earn what they can through legitimate voluntary transactions. There is no party position on the exact issue you raise.

What is our preference for the poor? We'd like them to become rich, too, and advocate steps that move us in that direction. 60 years ago Harry Truman predicted that by the end of the century a typical American's income would have tripled. He was right or quite close. We'd like to see that keep happening. I think most libertarians would like to be in the situation where everyone who wanted to be wealthy -- some people happily take oaths of poverty -- had the resources they wanted, though we recognize that we will never really reach this objective."

Joshua Koritz responds for The Socialist Alternative.

The Snare General: "Does The Socialist Alternative have an official position on wealth distribution (or the income gap)?"

Joshua Koritz: "The statistics that describe the wealth gap in the USA and worldwide are certainly staggering. Every time I do research on this subject, I'm blown away. For example: 1/2 of the world's population lives on less than $2 a day, while Latin America has the capacity to feed the whole world. A UN report from 2000 estimated that it would cost $40 billion to wipe out poverty, hunger, illiteracy, and give every human access to safe drinking water. As far as I can see, the resources exist to provide every human being on earth a decent standard of living, but the choices aren't made to do this. The wealth gap is a symptom of the natural flow of capitalism, an economic system that puts profits before all else, and the firms and individuals who control this capital are that wealthy 1%.

Socialism, or the beginning of a description of it, would mean the democratization of the economy. Not from the top down, but from the bottom up, with workers working with community members in small areas, but also in harmony across the globe, could organize the economy so that no human ever goes without access to shelter, food, water, health care, and education. This struggle would have to be international, and as such, we are part of an international group called the Committee for a Workers International In addition it could advance the process of moving towards "green" energy production and greatly reduce the harm done to the environment.

Socialist Alternative struggles to build working class power and democracy through the campaigns and coalitions we're involved in. For example, in Boston, we are working with others to build for an Oct 7 day of action to defend public education. This call came from California after the successful March 4 day of action. We are building this day among k-12 students, parents, and teachers, among higher education students, staff, and faculty and including anyone and everyone who may not fall into those categories.

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